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THE  CROW  CREEK  ROAD 


By 


MORRELL  ALLRED 


Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 
in  2013 


http://archive.org/details/crowcreekroadOOallred 


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THE  CROW  CREEK  ROAD 

The  first  known  road  to  and  through  Star  Valley  was  the 
Lander  Trail.  It  was  a  wagon  road  built  by  the  federal  government 
in  an  attempt  to  find  more  grass  and  water  along  the  Oregon  trail 
—  the  fiiel  without  which  any  route  could  not  fiinction  in  those 
days.  This  route  found  grass  and  water,  shortened  the  distance,  but 
it  traversed  a  much  more  rugged  terrain.  The  arrival  of  the 
transcontinental  railroad  to  this  area  changed  all  transportation 
equations.  It  rendered  the  Lander  trail  obsolete  after  only  a  few 
years  in  operation. 

The  arrival  of  the  railroad  to  Bear  Lake  Valley  made  the 
settlement  of  the  Salt  River  Valley,  later  to  be  renamed  Star  Valley, 
feasible.  This  high  mountain  valley  in  western  Wyoming  is  about 
45  miles  fi*om  the  rail  head  at  Montpelier,  Idaho  and  about  50  miles 
fi*om  the  rail  head  at  Cokeville,  Wyoming.  Either  route  must 
traverse  fi-om  the  Bear  River  drainage  to  the  Snake  River  drainage 
where  Star  Valley  is  located. 

But  the  early  Star  Valley  settlers  were  mostly  fi'om  the 
Mormon  settlements  of  Bear  Lake  Valley  and  the  valleys  of 
northern  Utah.  In  fact,  the  settlement  of  Star  Valley  was  an  LDS 
undertaking  —  the  last  such  in  the  region.  So  this  favored  the  Crow 
Creek  route  of  access. 

Another  factor  favoring  the  Crow  Creek  route  was  that  the 
Bear  Lake  cattlemen  were  abeady  grazing  their  cattle  on  the  Crow 
Creek  drainage,  and  probably  into  Star  Valley.  And  now  may  I 
digress  fi'om  the  route  aspect  for  a  moment  to  state  that  the  Bear 
Lake  stockmen  had  abeady  procured  grazing  rights  fi'om  the  Forest 
Service  for  most  of  the  Crow  Creek  drainage  before  the  Star  Valley 
residents  were  well  established.  And  likewise  the  sheepittr^n  of 
Cokeville  established  grazing  rights  on  most  of  the  mountains  east 


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of  Star  Valley.  The  lack  of  access  to  these  resources  placed  Star 
Valley  in  a  squeeze  which  severely  limited  its  population  potential. 

But  many  of  the  hardy  souls  who  went  forth  to  establish  the 
Crow  Creek  route  had  already  had  a  similar  experience  in  the 
settling  of  the  Bear  Lake  Valley.  (Some  of  the  first  inhabitants  of 
Bear  Lake  had  hurriedly  moved  on  after  declaring  the  region 
uninhabitable).  My  great  grandfather  Wm.  M.  Allred  was  one  who 
stayed.  He  built  one  of  the  first  cabins  at  St.  Charles,  Idaho  in 
1 864.  Before  many  years  he  had  sons  who  needed  land.  And  there 
was  land  in  the  new  settlement  of  Star  Valley.  So  in  1 893  the  Allred 
family  pioneered  once  again  over  a  high  mountain  pass  more  than 
forty  miles  from  a  raikoad  and  only  a  trail  for  a  road.  The  railroad 
had  arrived  in  the  Bear  Lake  Valley  with  a  supply  base  at 
Montpelier.  Did  the  pioneers  of  Star  Valley  dream  that  the  railroad 
would  soon  reach  them  also? 

The  route  from  Montpelier  to  Star  Valley  went  via 
Montpelier  Canyon  for  some  1 0  miles  to  "The  Elbow,"  then  up  a 
north  fork  to  Hanky's  ranch,  which  provided  over-night  facilities 
for  those  in  need.  Just  north  of  there  the  road  turned  sharply 
eastward  into  "Snow-slide  Canyon"  which  is  only  a  mile  long 
(roadwise),  but  traverses  a  steep,  bare  hillside  which  was  wont  to 
let  every  snowfall  slide  off  its  face.  Many  are  the  stories  I  heard  as  a 
youngster  from  freighters  who  were  stopped  by  snow-slides  from 
going  either  way  along  this  stretch  of  road.  We  heard  of  no  deaths, 
but  all  traveled  it  with  dread  during  wintertime. 

Then  the  road  turns  sharply  northward  again.  After  a 
couple  of  miles  is  what  was  known  as  "Camp  Give-Out."  So  soon? 
We  must  remember  that  often-over-loaded  freighters  were 
privileged  to  name  these  places.  The  only  accommodations  offered 
at  this  place  was  a  pleasant  camp  site  near  an  aspen  grove  and  a 
nice  spring  of  water  piped  into  a  sawed-oflf  wooden  barrel.  The  end 
of  the  pipe  was  high  enough  above  the  barrel  that  a  bucket  might  be 


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filled  for  human  use;  the  barrel  water  was  for  horses.  This  is  still  a 
beautiful  site  for  a  picnic  in  the  shade  of  the  aspen  grove. 

Continuing  northward  —  and  always  upward  —  for  a  mile 
or  so  we  reach  "Whiskey  Flat"  and  Whiskey  Creek.  The  only 
explanation  for  the  names  that  I've  ever  heard  is  that  some 
freighters  from  Montpelier  met  some  freighters  from.  Star  Valley 
there  and  drank  some  whiskey.  And  on  up  another  mile  or  so  there 
is  a  long  narrow  dugway  through  pine  timber  to  Pruess  Creek  and 
a  sharp  hairpin"  curve  to  begin  the  climb  back  out  of  this  canyon.  I 
might  add  that  Pruess  Creek  is  a  tributary  of  Salt  Creek  near 
Geneva  and  not  of  Montpelier  Creek. 

Near  the  top  of  this  climb  is  the  "Horse  Shoe  Bend." 
Originally  this  was  just  a  short-distance  steep  climb  in  which 
loaded  wagons  had  to  be  "doubled"  to  the  top.  Doubling  meant  that 
two  teams  of  horses  were  required  to  pull  the  loaded  wagon  to  the 
top  of  the  hill.  So  two  associated  freighters  doubled  for  the  climb. 
This  was  both  laborious  and  time-consuming.  So  a  group  of 
freighters  sort  of  organized.  They  brought  up  a  "hand  plow"  or 
two  and  a  "go  devil"  (I'll  explain  later)  and  made  a  long  gently 
climbing  curve  in  the  shape  of  a  horse  shoe  which  eliminated  the 
need  for  doubling  at  that  place. 

The  Horse  Shoe  Bend  emerges  at  the  summit  (as  I  now 
recall).  Behind  is  the  Bear  River  drainage.  The  Snake  River 
drainage  is  in  front,  commencing  with  the  Crow  Creek  and  its  many 
small  tributaries.  Crow  Creek  is  tributary  to  Salt  River  which  joins 
Snake  River  some  60  miles  on  northward.  The  Snake  joins  the 
great  Columbia  way  out  in  Oregon  some  300  miles  before  it  reaches 
the  Pacific  Ocean.  And  according  to  my  map  this  summit  is  7,  484 
feet  higher  than  the  ocean,  as  well  as  about  a  thousand  miles  inland. 
(Just  thought  you  might  want  to  know). 

It's  mostly  downhill  now.  And  it's  not  far  to  "Sampson's 
Tree,"  a  large  Douglas  fir  beneath  which  Mr.  Sampson  froze  to 


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death  in  attempting  to  deliver  mail  to  Star  Valley's  pioneers  in 
wintertime  via  snowshoe  express. 

A  mile  or  so  down  the  Crow  Creek  slope  and  nestled  in  a 
grove  of  trees  a  block  or  so  off  the  road  is  what  is  left  of 
"Halfway. "  It  once  consisted  of  a  nice  log  house  (it  might  have  had 
an  upstairs;  my  memory  fails),  a  bunkhouse  and  a  bam.  It  was 
operated  by  a  family.  Whether  they  were  the  owners  I  do  not  know. 
It  was  both  a  popular  and  necessary  overnight  facility  frequented  by 
travelers  —  mostly  freighters  —  en  route  from  both  directions. 
(When  I  visited  the  site  in  about  1980  there  were  still  ruins  of  the 
buildings  visible).  This  was  easily  the  most  important  facility  along 
the  route.  Cost  to  stay?  Can't  recall  ever  hearing.  Neither  can  Max 
Beyeler.  Then  he  made  what  he  called  a  "wild  guess"  of  not  more 
than  a  quarter  (25  cents!).  When  I  expressed  surprise,  he  said  that 
travelers  carried  their  own  bed  rolls  and  that  no  one  had  much 
money.  I'm  now  convinced  that  his  guess  was  "right  on  the 
money."  If  anyone  knows  the  price  for  sure,  we're  listening. 

Though  this  part  of  the  route  was  in  the  Crow  Creek 
drainage  it  was  several  miles  to  the  east  of  Snowdrift  Mountain,  the 
main  headwaters  of  Crow  Creek.  Thus  the  road  led  down  and 
around  a  few  hills  for  several  miles  before  it  joined  the  main  Crow 
Creek.  There  were  a  few  steep,  narrow  dugways  until  the  road  was 
past  Clear  Creek,  a  major  tributary  from  the  west  being  fed  by 
beautifixl  Snowdrift  Mountain,  also  to  the  West.  Within  a  few  miles 
the  canyon  widened  to  a  beautifiil  little  valley  and  a  couple  of 
ranches  —  AUeman's  and  Books'  The  latter  is  the  only  one  I  heard 
mentioned  by  the  freighters.  By  my  day  there  was  a  fairly  large  log 
ranch  house  set  well  off  the  road  and  a  dirt-roofed  log  cabin  just 
beside  the  road.  And  it  was  along  this  main  creek  that  these 
important  sites  were  located.  I  suspect  that  there  were  only 
emergency  accommodations. 

This  little  valley  ends  at  the  "Deer  Creek  Narrows."  The 


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original  road  left  the  stream  bottom  at  Deer  Creek  and  went  over  a 
low,  sagebrush-covered  hill  for  about  a  mile  before  returning  to 
follow  a  long,  narrow,  mile-long  dugway  above  and  along  side,  the 
swirling  Crow  Creek.  The  canyon  gradually  widens  and  the 
dugways  become  less  frequent  and  steep  until  at  last  the  road 
crosses  Sage  Creek,  a  major  Crow  Creek  tributary  from  the  north.  I 
don't  know  who  owned  the  two  ranches  before  my  time.  But  the 
original  road  proceeded  along  the  northwest  side  of  th^  gentle 
canyon  with  occasional  dugways  where  needed,  past  "Rabbit 
Point",  Poison  Creek,  the  shale  hills,  and  on  to  the  Idaho-Wyoming 
state  line  about  three  miles  from  Star  Valley  and  four  miles  from 
Fairview,  the  first  settlement. 

But  before  reaching  Fairview  the  road  negotiated  a  mile  of 
red  clay  hills  and  hollows.  Then  there  was  also  the  stretch  known 
as  "The  Double  Dugway."  Take  your  choice  between  a  shale  point 
and  mud  holes  among  the  willows  or  a  steep-hill  dugway  Last  but 
not  least  —  at  least  during  spring  runoff  —  there  was  Crow  Creek 
to  be  forded  before  reaching  Fairview.  The  original  road  crossed 
the  creek  just  below  where  Spring  Creek  joined  it.  And  Spring 
Creek  was  famous  for  its  high  water  during  springtime.  To  have 
crossed  higher  up  would  of  course  have  involved  two  crossings.  No 
doubt  the  best  site  was  chosen.  But  it  involved  both  water  and 
mud.  The  problem  was  later  solved  by  a  dugway  around  a  steep 
hillside  and  a  3"x  12"  plank  lumber  "Crow  Creek  Bridge". 

The  end  was  not  yet,  however.  Though  Fairview  boasted  of 
having  a  livery  stable  and  a  combined  log-built  post  office  and 
general  store,  the  end  of  the  Crow  Creek  road  was  at  Afton,  the 
site  of  a  water  powered  saw  mill,  grist  mill  and  blacksmith  shop, 
which  form  the  heart  of  any  successftil  pioneer  community.  These 
facilitated  the  demand  for  grocery,  hardware,  doctors,  dentist 
harness  shop  and  other  enterprises  which  go  to  make  a  leading 
community.  And  this  was  where  the  Crow  Creek  road  ended. 


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TEMPORARY  ALTERNATE  ROUTES 

Which  is  the  best  way  to  the  top  of  the  mountain  range? 
No  one  knows  until  different  possibilities  are  tested.  And  who  is  to 
do  that  except  those  who  are  to  travel  the  route?  So  alternate 

routes  to  negotiate  certain  hills  and  hollows  were  tried.  Some 
proved  practical  and  some  did  not.  Choices  were  made  by 
individual  users.  Some  temporary  short-distance  routes 
remembered  by  Max  Beyeler  were  too  short  to  designate  on  the 
center  spread  map.  The  longer  White  Dugway  route  is  indicated. 
And  he  also  remembers  Caveein  's  Retreat,  though  it  was  but  a 
short  way. 

Caveein 's  Retreat,  is  indicated  due  to  its  uniqueness.  In  the 
early  days  of  the  Crow  Creek  road  the  Caveein  family  started  out 
with  the  intent  of  settling  in  Star  Valley.  They  had  a  team  of  horses 
and  a  wagon  (covered,  I  would  guess)  loaded  with  their  belongings. 
It  was  springtime  and  the  roads  were  bad.  Somewhere  —  Hanky's 
ranch  I  presume  —  they  were  advised  to  wait  a  few  days  because 
the  hill  above  Whiskey  Flat  was  impassable.  But  they  were  in  a 
hurry  so  decided  to  go  up  the  canyon  beside  the  impassable  hill.  It 
was  muddy  in  their  chosen  canyon.  And  it  kept  getting  muddier 
until  their  horses  gave  out  with  their  wagon  sunken  in  the  mud.  So 
they  made  camp  and  grazed  their  exhausted  horses  on  the  meadow 
for  a  few  days. 

With  their  horses  rested  the  Caveeins  made  their  retreat. 
They  hooked  their  log  chain  to  the  rear  axle  of  the  wagon  with  the 
wagon  double  trees  hooked  to  the  other  end  of  the  chain  and  the 
horses  hooked  to  the  double  trees.  With  Mrs  Caveein  driving  the 
team  and  Mr.  Caveein  guiding  the  wagon  by  its  tongue  the  wagon 
was  pulled  back  out  of  the  muddy  canyon.  Hence  the  name.  But 
the  sad  part  is  that  Mrs.  Caveein  had  by  then  lost  her  desire  to  settle 


9 


in  Star  Valley. 

The  Crow  Creek  route  was  a  multiple-  purpose  facility  — 
for  hauling  freight,  mail,  stage,  personal  travel  (The  body  of  my 
great  grandfather  William  M.  Allred  was  sent  back,  either  by  stage 
or  transported  by  family,  to  Bear  Lake  valley  for  burial).  It  was 
also  a  livestock  driveway,  including  swine,  though  a  few  swine 
were  locally  butchered  and  the  meat  hauled  to  markets  at  the  rail 
head. 

We  must  remember  that  there  were  no  other  transportation 
facilities  for  at  least  35  years  following  settlement.  Carloads  of 
cattle  were  accumulated  by  buyers  and  driven  to  the  railroad  for 
trans  shipment.  I  can  recall  seeing  at  least  two  swine  drives  of  about 
100  head  —  or  whatever  the  number  required  to  make  a  rail  car 
load.  I  believe  that  it  was  the  Emery  Barrus  family  who  undertook 
this  enterprise.  They  were  relatively  large  grain  producers  in  need 
of  a  market.  They  could  haul  a  wagon  or  sleigh  load  of  grain  to 
the  raikoad  or  they  could  convert  the  grain  into  pork  and  market  it 
that  way.  I  never  did  hear  which  method  was  most  profitable.  But 
I  can  assure  the  reader  that: 

Hogs  must  be  driven  slowly;  they  can  be  driven  only  in  a 
cool  —  but  not  cold  —  environment,  thus  narrowing  the  options  to 
only  early  morning  and  cool  evening  hours  and  during  early  summer 
or  early  fall.  AND  they  must  be  driven  on  foot.  No  cowboys  need 
apply.  I  recall  that  Ezra  Jensen  was  thus  employed.  His 
recollection  was,  "It's  a  long  ways  to  Teller,  I  can  tell  you  that." 
Amen!  I  suspect  that  the  Barruses  were  glad  when  a  truck  road 
was  built. 

Now  we'll  describe  pioneer  road  building  and  the  many 
hazards  and  obstacles  encountered  in  supplying  a  growing 
settlement  located  at  an  altitude  of  over  6,000  feet  and  across  a 
high  mountain  range.  Then  may  I  add  some  odd  and  perhaps 


10 


interesting  incidents  I  recall  hearing  about. 

I  am  well  aware  that  some  of  the  items  I've  named  are  not 
familiar  to  this  generation.  So  to  begin: 

A  dugway  is  a  place  where  a  bit  of  hillside  is  dug  away  to 
make  a  road  way.  The  pioneers  —  or  anyone  needing  to  take  a 
wagon  among  hill  country  where  there  was  not  a  road  —  began  a 
dugway  by  plowing  a  furrow  with  a  hand  plow;  and  a  hand  plow  is 
simply  a  small,  single  pointed  plow  held  and  manipulated  by  hand 
(see  insert).  After  several  fiirrows  had  been  plowed,  the 
construction  was  leveled  with  a  go-devil  (see  insert).  The  process 
was  repeated  until  the  leveled  area  —  the  road  —  was  wide  enough 
to  accommodate  the  traflSc  intended.  There  were  so  many  dugways 
along  the  original  Crow  Creek  road  that  I  doubt  anyone  has  ever 
counted  them. 

It  must  be  added  that  the  solid  (undisturbed)  part  of  the 
road  had  to  be  wide  enough  to  support  a  loaded  wagon.  The  soil 
that  had  been  pushed  over  the  edge  of  the  hill,  though  it  may  have 
looked  like  a  road,  would  not  support  a  load.  It  was  known  as  the 
"soft  shoulder." 

Small  springs  of  water  were  bridged  by  a  three-plank  culvert 
or  their  bottoms  were  covered  by  poles.  Larger  streams  were 
simply  forded,  as  were  "mudholes."  All  of  these  improvements 
were  constructed  by  those  who  wanted  to  use  them.  No 
government  aid  of  any  kind. 

We  can  barely  mention  the  hazards:  snow-slides,  blizzards, 
sick  horses,  broken  wagons,  wagon  brake  failure,  walking  behind 
the  load  all  day  to  avoid  fi-eezing  to  death,  fording  Crow  Creek  at 
flood  stage. 

But  we  must  mention  some  of  the  obstacles: 

All  horses  on  the  road  were  shod.  Rough  shod.  With  the 
coming  of  fall  time  weather  the  ground  began  to  freeze,  first  at 
highest  altitude,  then  gradually  lower.  These  shoes  slipped  on  top 


11 


of  the  frozen  road.  So  the  horses'  shoes  must  be  changed.  They 
must  be  sharp  shod  if  they  were  to  have  sufficient  traction  to  pull 
their  loads. 

To  remove  rough  shoes  and  install  sharp  shoes  on  a  large 
team  of  horses  was  a  job  that  only  a  horse  lover  could  endure.  So 
why  not  leave  sharp  shoes  on  permanently?  Shoes  wore  down  to 
rough  and  horse's  toenails  grew.  So  shoes  had  to  be  refitted  every 
two  or  three  months,  anyway.  But  also  sharp  shoes  were 
dangerous.  Sharp  shod  horses  were  known  to  injure  themselves  as 
well  as  other  horses. 


Without  a  doubt  "transferring"  was  the  most  back-breaking 
job  encountered  by  freighters.  When  the  fall- winter  snows  became 
so  deep  on  the  mountains  that  wagons  bogged  in  the  snow,  but 
since  there  was  as  yet  no  snow  either  at  Montpelier  or  in  Star 
Valley  loads  must  be  transferred  from  wagon  to  sleigh  at  snow  level 
on  one  side  of  the  mountain,  then  re-transferred  to  wagon  when  the 
wagon  road  conditions  were  reached  on  the  other  side  of  the  pass. 
The  same  process  had  to  be  encountered  in  springtime  when  the 
snow  melted  in  the  valleys,  but  was  still  deep  on  the  mountains. 
Thus  two  wagons  and  one  sleigh  were  required  to  deliver  one 
wagon  load  of  freight.  Labor  beyond  my  imagination! 

I  learned  about  these  things  as  a  small  boy  growing  up  in  a 
blacksmith  shop  environment  where  freighters  came  to  my  dad  to 
have  their  broken  wagon  wheels  refitted  and  their  sleigh  runners  re- 
shod  (sleighs  as  well  as  horses  wore  iron  shoes).  Some  of  them 


Sharp  shoe 


Rough  shoe 


12 


wanted  Dad  to  re-shoe  their  horses  as  well  as  fit  their  shoes.  He 
declined.  He  was  not  a  horseman  and  some  horses  were  mean. 

So  back  to  the  road.  In  wintertime,  as  the  snow  packed 
down  the  road  built  up  not  only  where  sleigh  runners  went  but  also 
where  horses  trod.  Horses  placed  their  feet  in  certain  places  while 
going  at  a  walk.  And  in  those  spots  the  road  built  up.  (Should  a 
horse  be  forced  to  trot,  it  would  fall  off  the  road  and  into  soft  deep 
snow).  But  when  the  spring  thaws  began  the  sleighs  slid  sideways 
off  the  built-up  track  and  into  soft  snow.  The  same  with  horses. 
Their  built-up  tracks  failed;  they  slid  off  their  tracks.  These 
conditions  forced  fi'eighters  to  travel  only  early  in  the  morning 
before  the  midday  thaw  commenced. 

A  springtime  obstacle  was  mud.  The  snow  melt  turned  the 
roads  into  gumbo  in  some  places.  The  springs  of  water  gushed  out 
at  every  canyon,  hollow  and  draw.  As  a  small  boy  the  sight  of  a 
fi-eighter's  wagon  plowing  through  mud  ahnost  to  its  axles  made  a 
memorable  impression  on  me.  This  provided  a  rough  summer  road 
as  the  dug  up  mud  dried  into  mounds  of  solid  dirt  mingled  with 
deep,  permanent  ruts.  But  that  is  not  all.  The  wet  roads  soaked  the 
wooden  wagon  wheels,  causing  wood  expansion.  When  the  roads 
dried,  so  did  the  wagon  wheels,  causing  the  wood  to  shrink  and  the 
iron  tires  to  become  loose.  This  required  the  wagon  be  taken  to  the 
blacksmith  shop  for  wheel  refitting,  (see  insert). 

Most  of  my  knowledge  of  the  old  road  is  not  first  hand,  but 
comes  fi'om  listening  to  fi'eighters,  other  travelers,  my  brother  Enid 
and  my  good  friend  and  former  Crow  Creek  resident  Max  Beyeler. 

MY  PARENTS'  WEDDING  TRIP 

My  parents  were  married  on  June  15,  1915  in  the  Logan, 
UT  LDS  temple.  It  involved  a  never-to-be-forgotten  trip  over  the 
old  Crow  Creek  road,  not  in  a  fancy  carriage,  but  in  a  freight 


r 
C 


\ 


0 


r 


13 


wagon.  How  long  they  were  engaged  I  do  not  know.  But  when 
they  saw  in  the  Sears  Roebuck  winter  sale  catalogue  a  range  stove 
for  $47.50  FOB  to  the  nearest  freight  depot  they  grabbed  the 
bargain.  Though  the  wedding  date  had  already  been  set  for  June, 
the  stove  could  wait  at  the  freight  depot  in  Montpelier  and  they 
could  take  the  wagon  instead  of  the  buggy  to  be  married.  They'd 
leave  the  wagon  and  team  at  the  livery  stable  in  Montpelier,  take 
the  train  on  to  Logan  to  be  married,  pick  up  the  team  and  the  stove 
on  their  way  home  and  save  the  freight  charges.  Well,  they  did  have 
a  "spring  seat"  for  the  wagon. 

But  one  horse  got  the  colic  before  they  reached  Halfway. 
And  the  hosts  of  Halfway  were  not  at  home.  Mother  stayed  at  the 
Halfway  House  —  which  was  never  locked  —  and  Dad  stayed  at 
the  bunkhouse  near  the  sick  horse.  When  morning  came  the  horse 
appeared  to  be  well.  So  they  started  on  their  way  again.  Climbing 
the  hill  to  the  summit  made  the  horse  sick  again.  So  Dad  unhitched 
and  unharnessed  it  and  turned  it  lose  to  roll  —  often  a  good 
remedy  for  colic. 

But  the  old  horse  seemed  to  be  more  homesick  than  colic 
sick;  he  headed  for  home  on  the  trot.  Dad  had  to  unhook  and 
unharness  the  other  horse  before  he  could  give  chase.  Mother  sat 
alone  high  up  on  the  spring  seat  for  the  hour  that  it  took  Dad  to 
capture  the  runaway.  By  then  it  was  decided  that  if  the  horse  was 
able  to  trot  back  home  it  was  able  to  walk  on  to  Montpelier.  Which 
it  did.  And  the  rest  of  the  trip  was  relatively  uneventful. 

TO  CELEBRATE  THE  FOURTH  OF  JULY 

During  the  early  days  of  the  Crow  Creek  Road,  both  Dad 
and  Uncle  Harvey  played  instruments  in  The  Fairview  Brass  Band. 
One  of  their  most  important  functions  was  to  play  during  the 
sunrise  flag  ceremony  at  the  Fourth  of  July  Celebration.  They  also 


14 


milked  cows  at  the  homestead  up  the  Crow  Creek  Road.  The 
problem:  milk  the  cows  and  reach  the  flagpole  at  Fairvdew  before 
sunrise.  Their  cow  and  horse  pasture  were  both  open  range  at  the 
time.  So  it  can  easily  be  seen  that  they  must  wrangle  both  team  of 
horses  and  the  cows  and  milk  the  cows  before  daylight  on  the 
fourth  of  July. 

Well,  this  one  fourth  of  July  they  were  running  a  bit  late. 
They'd  have  to  drive  the  team  at  a  fast  trot.  All  went  well  until 
they  reached  "The  Double  Dugway."  At  this  point  there  were  two 
roads  for  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile.  They  had  a  choice.  One  road  led 
up  a  steep  hill  for  a  short  distance  then  on  over  some  low  hills.  The 
other  choice  was  to  wind  among  the  willows  on  the  creek  bottom, 
then  around  "shale  point".  Since  no  slow  climbing  was  involved 
they  took  the  latter  choice.  But  in  turning  around  some  willows 
they  came  upon  a  cow  which  was  lying  in  the  road.  No  time  to 
stop.  The  horses  elected  to  go  on  each  side  of  her.  Knocked  her 
down  as  she  tried  to  rise,  and  proceeded  to  get  beyond  her  before 
they  could  stop.  They  stopped  with  the  cow  lying  on  her  side 
beneath  the  buggy  tongue  and  double  trees.  No  way  for  her  to  rise 
up  and  flee.  After  hurried  consultation  it  was  decided  that  since  she 
was  between  the  wheels,  the  best  solution  would  be  to  drive  on 
over  the  cow.  And  that  they  did.  She  jumped  up  and  disappeared 
into  the  brush.  Apparently  with  only  injured  dignity. 

When  they  reached  the  flagpole  the  other  band  members 
were  already  playing  Stars  and  Stripes  Forever, 

TRIP  TO  THE  RICH  REUNION 

I  was  privileged  however  to  make  one  trip  over  the  old  road 
via  "white-topped"  buggy  —  the  Cadillac  of  all  vehicles  —  at  age 
about  six,  to  the  Rich  family  reunion  at  Fish  Haven  on  the  shore  of 
Bear  Lake.  Each  of  my  grandmother  AUred's  families  (she  was  a 


15 


Rich)  rented  a  white-top  for  the  occasion.  (None  could  afford  to 
own  one).  This  caravan  left  before  sunrise  the  day  before  the 
reunion.  It  was  a  beautifiil  June  day.  The  road  ruts  of  spring 
travel  were  dried  and  turned  to  dust.  We  traveled  with  suflScient 
distance  between  vehicles  for  the  dust  to  settle  so  no  one  would 
have  to  eat  dust.  The  horses  were  permitted  to  travel  up  the  hills  at 
a  walk,  which  meant  that  much  of  the  forenoon  went  at  a  slow 
pace.  After  crossing  to  the  Bear  Lake  slope  it  was  much  faster 
traveling.  We  "nooned"  at  "Camp  Give-out.  Watered  the  horses 
and  gave  them  a  taste  of  oats.  Had  a  nice  picnic  beneath  the  thick 
aspen  grove. 

Proceeding  on  to  Montpelier  the  first  thing  I  noticed  was 
that  there  were  no  fences  in  front  of  the  houses.  Then  I  noticed 
that  there  was  a  grove  of  pine  trees  right  in  the  middle  of  Main 
Street  (Automobile  traffic  later  dictated  that  they  be  removed  to 
increase  the  space). 

But  the  cream  of  the  trip  was  the  railroad  tracks  and  the 
train.  An  old  man  with  a  white  beard  and  holding  a  red  lantern 
came  out  of  a  little  building  and  waved  the  lantern  before  us  so  aD 
rigs  stopped  short  of  the  tracks.  Then  we  heard  a  great  big  whistle, 
sorta  like  a  hundred  cows  bawling  all  at  once.  Then  a  big  roar  as 
the  train  came  whizzing  by.  The  horses  were  as  scared  as  I  was. 

We  spent  the  night  at  Aunt  Ethel's  in  Ovid.  Then  on  to  the 
reunion,  where  I  got  mighty  tired  of  all  of  those  long  talks  by  old 
men  with  long  white  beards  and  all  of  Pa's  aunts  wanting  to  kiss 
me.  I  must've  slept  all  of  the  way  home  the  next  day,  because  I 
remember  nothing  about  it. 

THE  NEW  ROAD 

Again  I  must  appeal  to  memory.  It  had  to  be  during  the 
summer  of  1924  or  1925  that  the  "new  road"  was  built  up  Crow 


16 


Creek  canyon  to  the  Wyoming-Idaho  state  line.  This  was  a  joint 
endeavor  between  the  states.  Similar  road  crews  worked  to  build  a 
new  road  on  each  side  of  the  state  line.  Gilbert  Alked  and  the 
Venter  brothers  Henry  and  Clarence  were  among  those  having  the 
contract  on  the  Wyoming  side.  They  camped  just  below  our 
homestead. 

In  addition  to  a  hand  plow  and  a  go-devil  they  had  some 
horse-drawn  scrapers  and  a  multi-team-drawn  "road  grader"  built 
of  steel.  They  did  their  own  surveying  and  had  the  mandate  to  build 
the  road  on  a  gentle  grade.  This  necessitated  building  a  very 
winding  road.  And  it  has  persisted,  with  considerable  widening  and 
graveling,  to  this  very  day.  And  thus  we  were  thrust  into  the 
automobile  age. 

Barms  Bros.  Motor  Co.  Sold  both  new  and  used  cars. 
Sandy  Barrus  stopped  by  with  a  used  model  T  Ford.  But  it  was 
"up-to-date."  It  had  a  "self  starter"  whereas  most  Model  Ts  had  to 
be  cranked.  Well,  the  self  starter  worked  weU  inside  the  warm 
garage  where  the  cars  for  sale  were  kept.  But  out  in  the  cold 
weather  of  Dad's  back  yard  it  would  only  growl.  Had  to  be 
cranked.  And  cursed.  And  cranked.  Then  after  it  was  finally 
started  and  warmed  up  the  starter  worked  OK. 

So  Dad  complained.  I  heard  him  tell  Sandy  that  if  he  was 
just  going  out  fooling  around  he  took  the  car.  But  if  he  was  in  a 
hurry  he  hitched  up  the  team  of  horses.  And  Sandy  responded 
favorably:  He  later  sold  Dad  a  brand  new  sky  blue  open-air  Chevy 
with  an  all-weather  self  starter. 

But  first  there  was  the  trip  over  the  New  Crow  Creek  Road 
in  the  Model  T.  It  must  have  been  in  the  summer  of  1926.  Dad 
had  lost  the  sight  in  one  eye.  So  Mother  drove.  We  were  on  our 
way  to  visit  Uncle  Harvey  and  Aunt  Margaret  (Sandy's  sister)  who 
lived  at  Ogden.  Mother  barreled  that  Model  T  the  45  miles  to 
Montpelier  in  three  hours  flat! 


17 


Stayed  the  night  again  with  Aunt  Ethel  Morgan  at  Ovid. 
Headed  up  dirt-road  Immigration  Canyon  bright  and  early.  But  the 
old  car  died  a  couple  of  miles  short  of  the  top  of  the  hill.  Threw  a 
piston  rod.  Well,  a  "Good  Samaritan"  showed  up  in  just  a  few 
minutes.  He  also  had  a  log  chain  in  his  topless,  anything-but- 
Model-T  car.  He  towed  us  slowly  to  the  top  of  the  hill,  then  "hell 
fer  leather"  over  the  dry  farms  toward  Preston. 

One  of  our  tires  went  flat.  But  my  parents  didn't  want  to 
trouble  the  good  man  further.  So  Mother  just  steered  as  best  she 
could.  The  tire  wallowed  about  until  it  came  off  the  wheel  at  the 
time  we  were  going  along  the  steep  dry  farms  a  few  miles  out  of 
Preston.  The  tire  went  rolling  and  bouncing  down  off  the  hill  at  an 
ever  greater  speed  until  it  reached  bottom.  Quite  a  sight!  We  went 
on  into  Preston  and  to  the  garage  while  riding  on  one  wheel  rim. 

Luckily  our  tow  man  was  acquainted  and  he  got  us  right  in. 
I  don't  recall  whether  he  would  accept  pay  for  his  great  services. 
And  I  cannot  even  guess  the  gratitude  of  my  parents. 

Repairs  were  made  by  mid  aflernoon.  And  we  headed  out 
—  not  for  Ogden,  but  toward  the  Crow  Creek  road.  My  parents 
had  neither  the  stomach  nor  the  financial  resources  to  face  another 
such  breakdown.  After  visiting  about  Bear  Lake  Valley  for  a  few 
days  we  headed  for  home. 

As  much  of  an  improvement  as  the  new  road  was,  it  went 
along  a  number  of  steep  dugways  where  passing  could  be  a  worry 
to  any  timid  soul.  And  it  was  oflen  expedient  that  the  vehicle 
nearest  a  wide  spot  in  the  road  either  back  to  it  or  stop  there  while 
the  other  vehicle  passed.  But  occasionally  there  were  those  who, 
when  they  saw  a  car  coming,  just  "hugged  the  hill"  and  stopped 
there,  whether  it  was  to  their  right  or  left,  and  let  the  oncoming  car 
get  past  as  best  it  could  on  the  lower  side.  In  response  to  our 
contemptuous  glares  the  "hill  buggers"  sat  frozen- faced  with  their 
noses  pointed  down  road  as  if  they  were  unaware  of  our  existence. 


18 


And  now  I  must  tell  you  of  the  practice  of  honking  when 
approaching  a  sharp  bend  where  a  rocky  outcropping  prevented 
widening  the  road  around  a  hairpin  curve  and  thus  visibility  ahead 
was  limited  to  mere  feet.  One  such  was  the  red  "rock  ledge"  (we 
called  it)  not  far  from  our  milking  corral. 

One  day  Mother  went  up  the  road  toward  the  willow  thicket 
near  the  ledge  where  she  thought  a  cow  with  a  new  calf  was  hiding. 
As  she  neared  the  ledge  she  heard  a  car.  Then  another.  They  were 
coming  from  opposite  directions.  She  stepped  out  of  sight  among 
the  willows.  The  cars  met  at  the  rocky  point.  It  was  a  mild  collision 
because  both  had  to  be  traveling  very  slowly  to  make  the  bend. 
Both  drivers  got  out  and  one  yelled,  Why  the  hell  didn't  you 
honk?"  And  the  other  responded,  "Why  the  hell  didn't  you  honk?" 
One  was  a  prominent  citizen  from  Thayne,  Mother's  home  town. 
(If  you'll  ask  me  privately  I'll  tell  you  his  name  —  as  my  brother 
Enid  remembers  it). 

It  was  not  a  serious  accident.  But  Mother  remembered  to 
honk  from  then  on.  She  honked  religiously  as  she  approached 
every  bend  of  the  Crow  Creek  road  be  it  sharp  or  rounding. 

But  not  every  accident  was  harmless.  I  recall  a  gasoline 
delivery  truck.  I  admired  it  as  it  was  driven  by.  But  it  rolled  off  the 
steep  dugway  near  Whiskey  Flat.  The  driver  was  killed  and  the 
truck  burned.  I  recall  seeing  its  remains  years  later.  In  the 
meantime  the  entire  need  for  gasoline  in  Star  Valley  was  met  by 
Gene  Barrus  and  Ruel  Call.  They  hauled  it  in  50  gallon  drums  in 
pickup  trucks. 

UNCLE  RON'S  CHEVY  COUP 

Uncle  Ron  became  a  courtin'-age  teenager  about  the  time 
the  new  road  was  built.  And  the  new  road  made  a  wide  bend  which 
brought  it  just  above  our  milking  corral.  And  Uncle  Ron  bought  a 


19 


nice,  pale  green  Chevy  coup  —  the  cat's  meow  of  the  courtin' 
world.  He  parked  it  beside  the  road  right  above  the  corral  late  each 
Saturday  night  after  courtin'  was  complete.  But  the  brakes  failed 
on  the  Chevy  coup  and  he  couldn't  seem  to  get  them  fixed.  So  he 
used  the  gears  for  stopping.  Then  the  starter  went  capoop.  No  big 
deal.  He  pushed  the  car  to  get  it  coasting,  then  hopped  in  and  put  it 
into  gear  to  bring  to  pass  motor  turnover.  Then  away  he  went! 

But  this  one  night  he  parked  tilted  a  bit  over  the  edge  of  the 
road.  This  caused  the  car  to  want  to  turn  downhill.  So  when  he 
pushed  the  car  turned  downhill.  And  he  couldn't  jump  in  quickly 
enough  to  put  it  into  gear.  It  rolled  straight  down  hill  right  through 
the  middle  of  corral  taking  out  two  panels  of  corral  without 
breaking  a  pole.  It  missed  all  the  cows  and  even  the  spectators.  It 
stopped  rolling  about  halfway  to  the  cabin. 

Uncle  Ron  grabbed  a  hammer,  fixed  the  corral,  pushed  his 
car  (but  Enid  claims  that  the  starter  worked  just  then),  jumped  in 
and  away  he  went.  He  used  our  private,  milk  rig  road  to  drive  back 
onto  the  new  Crow  Creek  road.  And  down  the  new  Crow  Creek 
road  he  went. 

THE  MUD  HOLES 

All  went  well  for  motorized  summer  travel  on  the  new 
Crow  Creek  road  until  a  rainy  season.  Then  mud-holes  developed 
in  every  soft  spot  in  the  road.  Most  of  them  could  be  negotiated  by 
the  observant  driver,  especially  in  daytime.  But  some  got  "stuck  in 
the  mud."  Horse  teams  were  required  to  pull  them  out.  Frequently 
my  dad  received  a  request  during  a  night  to  wrangle  his  horses, 
harness  them  by  coal  oil  lantern  light  to  rescue  the  stranded 
travelers.  We  were  all  glad  when  gravel  was  applied  to  the  road. 
And  this  happened  not  long  before  the  road  was  abandoned  in  favor 
of  the  South  End  Route  from  Cokeville  to  Afton. 


20 


NEW  USE  FOR  ABANDONED  HALFWAY 

This  I  got  from  Max  Beyeler,  former  rancher  of  Sage 
Valley:  With  the  abandonment  of  the  Crow  Creek  route  for 
freighting  the  need  for  wintertime  Crow  Creek  road  maintenance 
and  for  Halfway  ended.  Halfway  was  abandoned.  Soon  thereafter 
two  bootleggers  found  early  springtime  use  for  its  remote  facilities. 
They  drove  their  car  in  from  the  Bear  Lake  side  and  over  the  top  of 
the  snowdrift  which  remained  up  near  the  divide  a  half  mile  or  so 
above  Halfway.  They  made  use  of  the  stove  and  bunks,  did  their 
manufacturing  and  proceeded  to  leave  by  the  same  route  they  had 
entered. 

In  the  mean  time  the  Beyeler  family  living  down  Crow 
Creek,  and  having  cattle  range  up  Crow  Creek,  sent  teenagers  Elmo 
and  Max  osSKt^  to  perform  the  errand.  Also  in  the  meantime, 
the  snowdrift  over  which  the  bootleggers  had  traveled  turned  to  ice. 
As  they  went  to  leave  with  their  precious  merchandise,  their  car 
failed  to  get  traction  on  the  snowdrift,  slid  off  it  and  rolled  down 
into  an  aspen  grove.  It  was  shortly  thereafter  that  the  Beyeler 
brothers  arrived.  Max  didn't  say  how  they  knew,  but  that  they  did 
know  what  had  taken  place  at  old  abandoned  Halfway. 

The  men  were  working  to  retrieve  their  merchandise.  So 
the  Beyeler  brothers  had  some  fim. 

"Can  we  help  you,  sirs"?  "Oh  no.  Thanks.  "But  we'd  be 
glad  to."  "No!  No!  Thanks,  but  we  don't  need  no  help!"  "But  are 
you  sure?  We'd  be  more  than  glad  to  help."  "YES!  We're  sure. 
We  don't  need  no  help!" 

Perhaps  I  should  remind  younger  readers  that  booze-making 
was  illegal  in  those  days  known  as  "prohibition". 


21 


RUNAWAYS  AND  ROLLAWAYS 

My  brother  Bryce  and  I  were  driving  the  "milk  rig"  up  to 
the  Crow  Creek  ranch  to  milk  the  cows.  About  a  block  below  the 
Turner  house  (the  place  I  later  bought  and  built  a  house  upon)  a 
breast  strap  on  a  harness  broke  on  the  side  where  we  had  a  runaway 
mare  hitched.  When  I  pulled  hard  on  the  lines  to  control  the 
horses,  something  on  the  mare's  bridle  or  check  rein  broke,  leaving 
me  with  only  one  controlling  line.  That  turned  the  horses  up  above 
the  dugway. 

I  yelled  "Jump!"  to  Bryce  who  was  then  quite  young.  He 
yelled  "I  can't!"  But  to  my  great  relief  he  did.  And  so  did  I.  After 
running  up  on  the  hillside  a  short  distance  the  horses  turned  about 
and  came  back  straight  toward  us  —  and  toward  home.  We 
jumped  out  of  the  way  (one  must  never  step  in  fi^ont  of  runaway 
horses),  but  two  wheels  of  the  milk  rig  went  off  the  lower  side  of 
the  dugway  causing  both  the  rig  and  the  team  to  roll  over.  They 
landed  bottom  side  up  in  the  midst  of  a  hawthorn  thicket.  How  we 
ever  got  them  untangled  and  up  on  the  road  again  I  cannot 
remember.  But  we  did.  Milk  cans  and  their  lids  were  strewn  both 
above  and  below  the  road.  We  toggled  everything  togetha?  ard 
continued  our  mission.  It  must've  been  quite  dark  by  the  time  we 
found  the  cows.  But  we  milked  them  before  going  to  bed. 

The  Oliver  Bagley  family  also  milked  cows  beside  the  Crow 
Creek  road.  And  it  was  only  a  couple  of  blocks  below  where  we 
had  our  "string-out"  that  teenage  Lorain  Bagley  "thrilled"  little 
brothers.  Each  evening  he  drove  a  one-horse,  rubber-tired  e»t  up 
the  Crow  Creek  road  to  the  homestead  where  they  milked  their 
cows.  And  each  time  he  drove  a  bit  closer  to  the  edge  of  the  high, 
steep  bank  about  a  quarter  mile  below  the  Turner  house.  It  was 


22 


great  flin  to  hear  the  little  kids  squeal.  At  last  he  drove  with  the 
lower  wheel  so  far  over  the  bank  that  the  entire  cart  was  pulled 
over  the  brink.  It  didn't  tip  over  but  it  out-pulled  the  horse  and  the 
whole  outfit  slid  down  the  50  or  60  foot  bank  backwards  and  into 
Crow  Creek. 

I  don't  recall  ever  hearing  how  they  got  out,  but  upstream 
about  50  yards  there  is  a  gentle  stream  bank.  I'm  guessing  that  is 
the  only  route  out  —  minus  some  milk  cans.  And  I  don't  believe 
the  story  that  Oliver  got  Leah  to  wade  out  into  the  creek  to  recover 
last  can  lid  because  he  couldn't  roll  his  pants  legs  up  high  enough 
above  the  water. 

RAY'S  DEAD  COWS 

My  wife  Beth  and  I  drove  up  the  Crow  Creek  road  for  a 
Sunday  afternoon  ride.  Our  good  neighbor  Ray  Hall  was  just 
crossing  the  road  between  house  and  corrals,  so  we  stopped  for  a 
little  visit.  In  the  course  of  conversation  Ray  had  occasion  to  tell  us 
about  finding  nine  of  his  cows  dead  and  the  various  places  where  he 
had  discovered  them.  But  just  as  he  got  started,  Hugh  Bagley  came 
along.  And  he  too  stopped  to  visit  —  and  to  listen. 

As  soon  as  Ray  completed  his  account  Hugh  piped  in  with, 
"Well,  you're  lucky,  Ray!  I  can 't  even  find  mine!" 

But  Ray  didn't  think  that  was  very  funny. 

I  could  tell  more,  but  they  might  not  be  appropriate. 


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CROW  CREEK 
By  Enid  Allred 

If  Crow  Creek  could  talk  it  would  have  much  to  say 

In  the  early  days  something  new  went  on  every  day. 

The  sheep  herds  came  through  to  lamb  and  be  shorn 

The  cattle  and  horses  kept  all  the  meadows  worn. 

The  homestead  act  brought  settlers  from  everywhere 

Smoke  from  the  stoves  drifted  out  through  the  air. 

Hardman  Hollow  came  in  from  north  of  west 

It  was  the  site  of  many  a  homestead  nest. 

Then  Poison  Creek  where  the  famous  rock  quarry  stood 

Many  buildings  were  built;  rock  is  better  than  wood. 

Salvation  Hollow  who's  south  slopes  were  really  bare 

In  early  spring  many  a  cattle  and  horse's  life  did  spare. 

There  was  Hall's  and  Kennington's  on  up  the  way 

One  was  named  Harv  and  the  other  named  Ray. 

Rock  Creek  came  in  a  little  east  of  south 

It  watered  a  beautifiil  meadow  at  its  mouth. 

From  the  northwest  came  Sage  Creek  to  the  lands  below 

The  drainage  from  Big  Spring  and  Flat  Creek  to  make  it  grow. 

Coggins  Hollow  and  Camel  Hollow  are  next  on  the  south 

Across  the  way  is  Deer  Creek  with  a  camp  site  at  its  mouth. 

Nate's  is  the  next  ranch  up  the  way 

They  just  pasture  it;  they've  quit  cutting  hay. 

At  Wells  Canyon  a  dirt  road  goes  over  the  hill 

You  can  go  to  Georgetown  or  Diamond  Creek  at  your  will. 

The  canyon  then  widens  out  a  bit  a  place  for  the  Alleman  boys 

It  now  belongs  to  the  Stewarts;  they  play  golf  and  keep  their  summer 

toys. 

White  dugway  I  guess  is  the  next  landmark 

The  Wilford  Pead  homestead  now  belongs  to  Ross  Clark. 

Crow  Creek  heads  a  little  farther  up  of  course 

And  the  Snowdrift  Mountain  is  its  source. 

These  are  just  a  few  things  that  Crow  Creek  could  say 

And  I'm  sure  it  is  still  making  history  every  day. 


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